On Stage with Paul!
We’ll Meet Again!
During my singing career I’ve had the pleasure of performing for many 1940s events both here in the UK and abroad but Hughenden Manor is rapidly becoming one of my favorites. From the moment you enter the grounds there is a buzz of excitement from all the participants who have been carefully hand picked to take part in this prestigious National Trust event. Last weekend was no exception as we all pulled together and worked our socks off to make Saturday and Sunday’s event the best 1940s Hughenden ever!
This weekend offers a wonderful varied mix of activities and interests appealing to all age groups from re-enactments, military displays, music and dance work-shops and of-course not forgetting Hughenden Manor it’s self, which was once home to the Victorian Prime minister Benjamin Disraeli.
For those of you who don’t know during WW2 Hughenden was requisitioned by the Air Ministry and became
Paul with Sound Engineer & DJ Dave Dawes!
Angela’s Vintage Hair Salon!
a top secret map making operation for the RAF. From 1941 – 46 over 100 men and women, civilian and military were based at Hughenden producing target maps for nearby Bomber Command HQ. So it’s hardly surprising that Hughenden Manor has now become the setting for a rapidly growing 40s event.
Last year we had record visitor numbers and in 2018 the event attracted 1735 on the Saturday and 2412 on Sunday. This year we saw 2183 on the Saturday and 3050 on the Sunday which is an increase of just under 1100 people. Incredible but also understandable with the growing interest in Operation Hillside which was Hughenden’s code name during the War. Earlier this year the house renovate and open two new rooms expanding it’s Operation Hillside exhibition which has proved to be extremely popular.
It’s always feels like a great honor to be invited to sing at Hughenden and this year Paul and I
Shopping for Vintage Between Shows!
On Stage with the Fantastic Polka Dots!
had the pleasure of working with three girl harmony group “The Polka Dots” and sound man and radio DJ Dave Dawes from 1940sradio.com
In past years it’s been Paul and my responsibility to provide sound not only for ourselves but for other artists too. So it was lovely this year to concentrate solely on our performances and to have Dave rigging and mixing sound for us all. My brief was to perform two singing sets daily one uniform, one glamour. To share the compering duties with Dave Dawes and to run the 1.30pm dance work shop on the Parterre stage. Paul too had been engaged to perform his own 30 minute Swing Sinatra set and we couldn’t have wished for better
Enjoying the Gardens at Hughenden!
Getting Dressed for my Dance Work-shop Back-stage!
Meeting Up with Friends and Visitors!
Meeting Friends & Dressed for Battle of Britain Day!
weather as the weekend got busier and busier.
A great deal of thought goes into all my shows not only musically but also into the clothes I wear. Although the uniform shows are straight forward enough everything still has to be properly prepared with brass buttons and shoes polished and clothes pressed. When it comes to teaching dance workshops it’s essential I’m able to bend and stretch. So this year I designed a blue crepe 1940s trouser suit which worked so well and gave me the freedom to move as I needed.
I first started teaching 40s dance work shops at Hughenden three years ago. My idea was to take
Packed with Visitors!
Ready to Begin My Glamour Set!
popular party dances from the time such as “The Lambeth Walk” and “Hands Knees and Boomps a Daisy” and to adapt them choreographically to fit the confines of the Parterre stage. These work-shops are now proving extremely popular and I couldn’t believe the number of people who joined in last weekend. It’s great fun although I think Dave and Paul got covered in dust as the Parterre started to fill with budding dances all strutting their stuff on the gravel floor.
On Saturday I opened the event on the North Lawn stage with my ATS “We’ll Meet Again” show to tie in with the 80th WW2 Anniversary. On this occasion I began with Neville Chamberlain famous speech and segued into “Mother was Right” which for those of you who have a copy of my “We’ll Meet Again” album will know is a song about the ATS. For my final set I closed with my American glamour show “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”.
When ever I do events I don’t like to repeat my shows so on Sunday I opened with “Hollywood Swing” and closed with “Those Magnificent Men” a special WAAF Show to tie in with Sunday’s important date 15th September which as I’m sure you all know is remembered as “Battle of Britain” Day. Paul delighted audiences his Sinatra swing show and the Polka Dots drew a crowd with their sassy dance routines and tight harmonies.
Some of the events other great highlights included a Spitfire fly passed on both days and the Special service taken by the Rev Keith Johnson and group Captain Shaun Harris, who is Station Commander at RAF High Wycombe. I’d also like to thank Moria Andrews and her dedicated team who worked so hard to make this event such a success and Paul and I are already looking forward to next year.
For the first time I recommended to Moria my friend Angela to have a vintage hair dresser. I’ve known Angela for many years and when it comes to doing vintage hair styles she is the best in the business. It was the first time Angela had ever done anything like this and all day she had a steady flow of customers all having their hair beautifully styled while visitors continued to flock through the gates.
This week I’m still busy performing “Battle of Britain” and “Last Night of the Proms” concerts before heading off to The East Anglian Railway Museum in Colchester at the weekend. I’m thrilled to announce Paul and I have been booked by the museum to perform for their special 1940s event next year on the 4th 5th July which is entitled “A Steamy Vintage Encounter”. Keeping social media fed with exciting images is a full time occupation and as September is one of the best months for out door photography I was keen to squeeze in a 1940s photo shoot before Paul and I are away on tour again.
I’ve managed to book top photographer Angela Adams to do the shoot who I have had the pleasure of working with many times before. I’m planning to record some of my new 1940s out-fits combined with some Brief Encounter inspired shots for the railway museum so they can use them as part of there 2020 publicity.
Speaking of 2020, bookings are starting to come in for next year and Paul and I have already been engaged to perform for Bretteville l’Orgueilleuse Liberation Ball in Normandy, as part of our D-day tour for next June. In a couple of weeks we fly out to Milan to perform for Graffignana’s vintage festival. This time we will be performing the music of the 1950s, 60s and 70s and on the 30th Sept I’m heading south to Danny Mansion in the village of Hurstpierpoint with my one woman
Dressed for Operation Hillside!
show “My Fair Lady”. Danny Mansion was where Lloyd George summoned his war cabinet back in the day so I’m looking forward to performing there very much.
That’s all my news for now. I shall leave you with a few photos from this weekend with many more available to see by clicking onto my facebook page link.
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